On This Day: John Denver Goes on Camping Trip With ‘The Muppets’ in 1983 TV Special

by Jon D. B.

Relive the magic that was and always will be John Denver & The Muppets through their 1983 television special, Rocky Mountain Holiday!

Whether you’re a Muppets or John Denver fan (and who isn’t both?), few marriages in pop culture have produced the heights of this dynamic. Starting with his guest-hosting appearance on episode 401 of The Muppet Show in 1979, John Denver would enjoy a long and fruitful partnership with Jim Henson and his beloved Muppet creations.

Through several hit albums and television specials – and even appearing in National Wildlife Federation public service announcements with Kermit the Frog himself – John Denver & The Muppets would become synonymous over the course of the 80s.

As one of countless kids who grew up obsessed with the Muppets (still am), Jim Henson’s brilliant work was what introduced me to the fellow brilliance of John Denver. The folk/country legend’s genuine sincerity, kindness, and gentle nature played perfectly opposite the Muppets’ antics, and if any celebrity was a believable best-human-friend for Kermit: it was Denver.

John Denver & The Muppets Take On the Rockies

Right off the bat, the late singer/songwriter hit it off with the Henson crew. His 1979 debut on The Muppet Show immediately led to their highly successful Christmas album, A Christmas Together, that same year. It is still lauded as one of the “best Christmas albums of all time” to this day. The album came courtesy of the pairing’s first television special: John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together.

Such a hit was their first go-round together that John Denver & The Muppets would reunite a few years later. The result? Rocky Mountain Holiday! This beloved musical comedy special hit television on this very day, May 12, in 1983 courtesy of ABC.

Within, Denver and Kermit lead Fozzie, Gonzo, Rowlf, and the entire gang on a camping trip into – you guessed it – The Rocky Mountains.

Denver’s own masterpiece, Rocky Mountain High, had been a wild success throughout the 70s. In retrospect, it almost feels odd that it took this long for this TV special to happen. Nevertheless, it did, and the world is a better place for it.

The Intertwined Fates of Denver & Henson

It’s sad to think how much more both John Denver and Jim Henson had to give this world. Both died tragically young, with Henson succumbing to untreated pneumonia just days after getting sick in 1990 at age 53.

In a shocking twist of fate, John Denver would die seven years later on October 12, 1997… Also at the age of 53. His death shook the world after his experimental amateur aircraft crashed into the Monterey Bay off the California coast.

There will never be another entertainer like Denver, nor another creator like Jim Henson. As such, it always feels pertinent to revisit, appreciate, and smile along with the good times they gave us.

Relive some of their best work together with Rocky Mountain Holiday in full below. And celebrate the icons that were and always will be John Denver & The Muppets: